Northbrook-raised sports fan gets ‘dream job’ on Chicago TV station – Chicago Tribune
Peg Holecek has to get up at 5:20 every morning, but lately, she’s been staying up past 10 p.m., just to watch TV.
Why? Mikie’s back in town.
Mikie Berman is one of the Glenbrook North High School teacher’s old broadcasting students, and, since Aug. 15, he’s been working as a sports reporter at Chicago’s NBC 5.
“I’m so excited, I stay up late to look for him on the news,” she said.
Mikie’s excited, too. He calls himself Mike Berman now, and, after 11 years as a television sports professional, he says he finally got his dream job.
“It’s really cool to be able to do what I love in my home town, and to do it in what I consider, hands down, to be the best sports town in this country,” he said.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Holecek said. “He had a lot of personality.”
She said he took an introductory broadcast course, then seven semesters of sports broadcasting. On the Channel 5 News, she said, “I see a kid passionate about what he’s doing — the same as he was in high school.”
Berman, 33, graduated from Glenbrook North in 2001, then got a degree in broadcast journalism at Missouri. After graduating in 2005, he worked a year as a weekend sports anchor at Springfield’s WICS-TV, then for almost seven as a weekend sports anchor at Time-Warner Cable News in Austin, Texas. He then he got a job as a principal sports anchor at WTTV, the CBS station in Indianapolis.
Was a job as a reporter and fill-in anchor job in Chicago a good career move?
“To work doing sports in Chicago, where there are not many opportunities, I jumped at the chance to be back home and join an incredible station like NBC 5,” he said. “This is where I always wanted to be. It was a no–brainer.”
A bonus: he no longer has to apply his own makeup.
“It’s always better to have somebody do it who knows what they’re doing,” he said.
Berman is now assigned to Bears coverage, replacing the veteran Peggy Kusinski, who moved on to sports investigations, he said.
He credits Holecek for teaching him many of the things he needed to be successful.
The GBN program “was so instrumental in getting me started. Using cameras, editing, on–air performance — it was really an incredibly comprehensive program and I think I know that it is something special.
“I remember thinking when I got to Missouri — I already know all this stuff.”
Another learning experience came the summer after his freshman year at Missouri: an internship at Pioneer Press.
“It was a very positive experience, and my first experience in sports journalism,” he said.
He said he appreciated former sports editor Larry Watts assigning him to interesting stories, including a profile of the Northwestern University football team doctor, a story about the prolific golf course designer A.W. Tillinghast, and one about Pat Misch, a Glenbrook North baseball player who went on to play for the Mets and Giants and, at 35, is now playing in Japan.
“Larry was great. So nice, and he trusted me with these assignments,” he said.
Berman, himself a GBN outfielder, was covered by Pioneer’s Jim Coffman. Later, Berman said, Coffman helped show him the ropes as a reporter.
“It was an invaluable experience,” he said, adding that he also appreciated learning at GBN publications such as The Torch newspaper, and learning from adviser Brian Halpren.
“I don’t think people realize how important writing is in this (the TV sports) business,” he said.
It prepared him for what he considers a career that he knows is the envy of many.
“I covered the longest college baseball game in NCAA history,” he said. “It was incredible. Texas and Boston College, May 31, 2009. Twenty-five innings, seven hours, three minutes. It was tied forever. It ended 3-2, Texas. And it was a tournament game.”
He’s covered Super Bowls, NCCA basketball championships, the Indianapolis 500. And now, “I get to go to Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, the Cell.
“These were all the places that I loved when I lived here.”